August 30 2019

Premium Mediocre

Premium mediocrity surrounds us, as per Venkatesh Rao, the father of the expression. It is there in this pseudo-high-end food or luxury-for-everyone hotel chain, in this average real estate piece we are clinging to (if we’re lucky), or in this VP role that we had strived to obtain for so long.

It is driven by the aspiration of most to become something bigger, better, brighter. For V.R., “the essence of premium mediocrity is being optimistically prepared for success by at least being in the right place at the right time, at least for a little while, even if you have no idea how to make anything happen during your window of opportunity.”

In reality, we all should strive to escape premium mediocrity, either upward where only 1% of the humanity dwells (a challenge), or downward, as a voluntary way to downgrade oneself for a while to regain true perspective. The same happens in markets.

Applied to markets indeed, premium mediocrity is the realm of the headless chicken, where your direction-less investor soul only reacts to events. You buy on the news and sell on the rumour. You are shoved through ups and downs with no sense of purpose.

Upscale lies the kingdom of ideas with its trend-setting visionaries. Only a few get there, and only by chance. Let’s be honest.

Downstream resides the soul-less, not much aware of the events that agitate this world, but very conscious of people. This is in this latter world of trial and error, of belief and faith rather than thoughts, that real trends are forged. If you understand this, you’d be much closer to understand markets behaviour where herd instinct prevails in the end.

This is Plato’s allegory of the cave, the place where opinions (doxa) matters more than ideas. Picture a giant tweetosphere, where fake news constantly is tweeted to 60 million followers. You can’t possibly undo this at once, but you can try to understand where these masses go and adjust your playbook accordingly. Only thus, could you pretend to escape premium mediocre.

360 Advisory – Markets